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No. 7 South Carolina vs. Kentucky: Series Preview, Game Times, How to Watch and more

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The Gamecocks host the Wildcats to begin SEC play

TheBigSpur

The Gamecocks (14-3) enter their first weekend of conference play on a seven game win streak as they host the Kentucky Wildcats. South Carolina swept their two-game series with Penn State this week, posting their best offensive performance of the season in a 13-3 victory on Wednesday. South Carolina leads the overall series against Kentucky 45-34. South Carolina's series victory in Lexington in 2009 is the only time in the last decade that the home team hasn't won the matchup between the Gamecocks and Wildcats.

Kentucky enters the series against the Gamecocks with a 13-3 record. The Wildcats have not lost since they dropped three games in a row in the second week of the season. One of those losses came to #9 Southern California and the other two were to #21 UC Santa Barbara. A Wildcat victory in the third game against UC Santa Barbara began Kentucky's current win streak of 11 games.

This Kentucky team will be a good test for the Gamecocks to kick off what will be a very tough conference schedule.  Coach Holbrook said on Thursday that "playing 30 games against SEC competition is always a great challenge" and that's especially true this year as 12 of those 30 conference games will be against teams currently ranked in the top ten.

South Carolina Kentucky
Batting Average .274 .312
On-Base % .377 .394
Slugging % .385 .408
ERA 2.19 3.21
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio 2.86 3
Fielding % .970 .968

South Carolina's ERA ranks 13th in the country and the pitching has been particularly strong over the past week, with only two earned runs allowed in the last five games. That pitching will be tested as the Gamecocks face a talented Kentucky offense led by Ka'ai Tom, who is hitting .450. Holbrook pointed out on Thursday that there aren't a lot of easy outs in the Kentucky lineup and that the Gamecocks will have to "hold [their] own offensively" to keep up with good offenses (like Kentucky's) in conference play. Holbrook hopes that the offense can be more consistent, as he feels that the defense and the lineup are getting more stable. As he suggested might be the case in the preseason, Holbrook seems comfortable with moving Max Schrock out to left field in order to make room for all of the infielders that have earned playing time.

Wil Crowe will stay in the Friday night slot for the Gamecocks. The sophomore right-hander has a 3.47 ERA with a team-high 31 strikeouts and seven walks. Junior lefty Jack Wynkoop will take the mound in Saturday's game. His ERA is 2.00 and he has 23 strikeouts and five walks on the season. Freshman right-hander Clarke Schmidt will get the Sunday start for the second week in a row after a solid performance (4.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4K) in his first career start last week against Miami (Ohio). His season ERA is 2.35 and he has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio on the team (7) with 14 strikeouts and 2 walks.

Kentucky's Friday night starter will be Zack Brown, a sophomore right-hander. Brown has a 1.74 ERA with 23 strikeouts and 5 walks. On Saturday junior right-hander Kyle Cody will get the ball for the Wildcats. His ERA is 3.43 and he has 26 strikeouts and three walks this season. Junior right-hander Dustin Beggs, who has a 2.59 ERA with 20 strikeouts and three walks, will start for the Wildcats on Sunday.

Game 1, Friday

Start Time: 7 pm

How to Watch: SEC Network Plus

How to Listen: 107.5 The Game and Gamecocks Radio Network affiliates

Game 2, Saturday

Start Time: 4 pm

How to Watch: SEC Network Plus

How to Listen: 107.5 The Game and Gamecocks Radio Network affiliates

Game 3, Sunday

Start Time: 1:30 pm

How to Watch: SEC Network Plus

How to Listen: 107.5 The Game and Gamecocks Radio Network affiliates